Handbook of Research on Fair Trade
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Handbook of Research on Fair Trade

Edited by Laura T. Raynolds and Elizabeth A. Bennett

Fair trade critiques the historical inequalities inherent in international trade and seeks to promote social justice by creating alternative networks linking marginalized producers (typically in the global South) with progressive consumers (typically in the global North). The first of its kind, this volume brings together 43 of the foremost fair trade scholars from around the world and across the social sciences. The Handbook serves as both a comprehensive overview and in-depth guide to dominant perspectives and concerns. Chapters analyze the rapidly growing fair trade movement and market, exploring diverse initiatives and organizations, production and consumption regions, and food and cultural products. Written for those new to fair trade as well as those well versed in this domain, the Handbook is an invaluable resource for scholars and practitioners interested in global regulation, multi-stakeholder initiatives, social and environmental certification, ethical labeling, consumer activism, and international development.
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Chapter 12: Cooperatives, corporations and fair trade

Darryl Reed


Fair trade is one of the most prominent socio-economic development initiatives of the past several decades. The nature of its contributions to development, however, are contested, with some advocates claiming that it re-embeds the economy back into society, while critics argue that it functions to legitimatize a larger, neoliberal globalization project. What cannot be disputed about fair trade is the fact that it has become an increasingly complex practice over the years. This complexity, along with different normative conceptions of development, helps to account for the radically different evaluations of fair trade. The premise of this chapter is that a more nuanced analysis of the complex nature of fair trade, especially the relationships between its key economic actors, cooperatives and corporations, can provide better insights into its functioning and its potential for promoting development. In taking up such an analysis, this chapter restricts its scope to the Fairtrade network associated with Fairtrade International. Two primary characteristics contribute to the economic complexity in Fairtrade, namely different norms of behavior and the variety of firms involved. For ease of presentation, this chapter abstracts from the wide diversity within Fairtrade by distinguishing two sets of norms (namely, fair trade principles and minimum standards) and two types of firms (namely, cooperatives and corporations).

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